When the world collapses, clothing is our last refuge. This is one of the takeaways from Paris Fashion Week, which is slated to run until March 3. A week dedicated to the corona virus, which dents the masses of French fashion a little more every day: parades, presentations and cocktails cancelled, contingents of journalists and foreign buyers absent, abandoned shops, unfinished collections by closed factories in China or North -Italy. Above all, the fear of an epidemic is increasingly felt among the ranks of the parades, where hundreds of people are concentrated – almost ten times a day.
At the behest of their editor, or simply out of fear, major fashion editors have resigned themselves to wearing a white surgical mask, while bottles of hand sanitizer are enthroned at the entrance to the shows. Others prefer to hide their faces in their cashmere scarf or in the collar of their huge down jacket. The fear of catching a cold snap is everywhere. The layers of protection are increasing: parkas, turtlenecks, gloves, chapkas, hats, padded boots. Of course, the fashion designers presenting their autumn-winter collection 2020-2021 could not have foreseen the arrival of this semi-sanitary psychosis. However, it is difficult not to interpret their work in light of the coronavirus and the announced pandemic.
Armor and shelters
At Marine Serre, the future has always been dystopian. Season after season, the young French designer sketches a world ravaged by disasters, especially ecological ones, a mysterious planet where clothing is the last wall of defense for our survival. The body is covered from head to toe. The hands are gloved, the bodies are fashioned in wool dresses worn with half-moon tights, the very popular Marine Serre logo.
Balaclavas, protective masks and faux fur scarves devour faces. The subject is dark but not devoid of hope. At Marine Serre, individuals are always able to outdo themselves to sublimate their fitness. For example, some dresses are patchworks made of recycled fabrics, jackets and costume dresses tell of a forgotten sophistication, while fabulous cocoon jackets form an almost childlike silhouette. Finally, fuchsia pink dresses with ruffles adorn mother-daughter duos with a touching band.
Make way at Kenzo for a new artistic director: Felipe Oliveira Baptista. For his first collection, this former Lacoste employee presents a very clear vision of protective clothing. This is not so much about survival, but about travel. Nomadism exactly. From individuals who go through life with only a wardrobe that can be transformed at will. Wherever they leave, wherever they land, they wear reversible jackets, parkas that unfold like wings, cocoon dresses. Camouflage prints reveal trompe l’oeil beds of roses. The gait is fluid, the movement without compulsion. A poetic ode to self-liberation.
Protection, it also seemed to be a question with Paco Rabanne. Artistic director Julien Dossena presented a spectacular parade in the Conciergerie, a royal medieval palace that became a revolutionary court and Marie-Antoinette’s prison. Between light and darkness, her heroines move completely covered but confident, as if crossed by a mystical force. They wear medieval-inspired chainmail dresses and long coats, as austere as those worn by clerics of the time. To tell the story of tomorrow’s fashion, Julien Dossena immerses us in a very distant past and relives the heritage of couturier Paco Rabanne in an unexpected way. Bold approach and sparkling beauty result. A radical expression of feminine power.
At Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri links the future of the planet to that of women. An unequal world is a world in danger. To protect her rights, the Dior woman opted for an emancipatory wardrobe: pea coats and pleated skirts, small collars with ties, loose trousers and checked culottes, sleeveless wool cardigans worn over immaculate shirts. The kind of pieces Maria Grazia Chiuri wore as a teenager, when she used clothes as a tool for rebellion and self-affirmation.
At Saint Laurent, women’s emancipation is told in a completely different language. Anthony Vaccarello’s fashion show took place in front of the Eiffel Tower, in a huge mirror cabinet built especially for the occasion. Inside, walls completely covered with beige carpet. Black night. Toxic atmosphere. Halos of light revealed a temptress sitting on dizzying stiletto heels.
Praying mantis cast in vinyl leggings and muslin in the colors of the Orient, she goes victorious, murderous, brandishing her long leather trench coat here and there. This show, perhaps the most beautiful of the season, recalls the collaborations between Yves Saint Laurent and Helmut Newton. A freedom to transgress and provoke that our time, addicted to political correctness, sometimes lacks. Protect yourself, yes, but against what?